Programme Description

This course aims to place the modern Middle East in its international context, exploring histories of empire and decolonisation, hegemony and resistance, conflict and cooperation, as well as identity and foreign policy. It is informed by a rigorous engagement with theories of international relations. The course begins with an exploration of the different historical phases of interaction between Middle East states and the international system. These are divided into the colonial, Cold War and post-Cold War periods.

Lectures will cover the early settler colonies, Britain’s informal empire in the Gulf, and the Anglo-French mandates, as well as the rise of Turkey and Israel, and the challenge represented by the pan-Arabist revolutionary states, followed by a discussion of the Middle East’s place in the post-Cold War unipolar era. Each of these phases is discussed in tandem with relevant influential paradigms and concepts of international relations theory used to study the Middle East in its international context. Attention is paid to the question of the features of a regional sub-system, as well as the subfield of foreign policy analysis in international relations. The second section of the course tackles key themes in international relations, such as transnationalism, migration, oil, globalisation and identity. The final section of the course considers conflict and cooperation. This will involve analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Arabism and Islamism, and the foreign policy-making and key actors of regional powers.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however, please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Social Programme

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and an optional river cruise on the Thames for a small additional charge. Details about how to book will be communicated to you once you are registered. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends.


Course information

46 hours contact time

Monday - Thursday

10am - 3pm: lectures and tutorials

Additional 2 hours on a specified Friday involving content-related optional activities, such as museum or company visits. On Fridays, courses open up one of their activities to all Summer School students, giving each student a variety of different activities to attend.

Optional hours: In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of 'activities' relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc). On Fridays, all courses open up one of their activities to all summer school students and these are optional. For example, if you have been studying a Development course, you may choose to join an activity belonging to a Politics, Economics and Environment course. All activities will be staggered throughout the day so that you have a chance to take as many as possible. Please note however that the Friday activity relating to the course you are registered on is compulsory.

Week 1: Key approaches and historical phases

  • Introduction: What is the Middle East?
  • Empire and the Middle East State System
  • Postcolonial Approaches
  • Decolonisation and The Cold War
  • Structuralist Approaches

Week 2: Key themes and approaches

  • Israel/Palestine in Historical Context
  • Israel/Palestine after the Oslo Accords
  • States, Markets, Oil
  • Migration, Diaspora and Refugees

Week 3: Foreign policies and interstate relations

  • Egypt in Global Politics
  • Iran in Global Politics
  • Turkey in Global Politics
  • Arabism and Islamism
  • From 'War on Terror' to War on Iraq
  • Rethinking Security: Critical Approaches
  • Origins of the Arab Uprisings
  • Fortunes of the Arab Uprisings
  • Student Debate: Rethinking 'IS'

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.


Teaching & Learning

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • to demonstrate familiarity with the relevant theories of international relations and foreign policy analysis necessary to investigate themes in the Middle East regional and international politics;
  • to demonstrate a strong grasp of the history of the region since its emergence as a modern state system at the turn of the last century;
  • to familiarise students with the relevant theoretical debates and empirical cases pertaining to issues of Middle East regional and international politics such as imperialism, cooperation and conflict, regionalism, hegemony and dependence;
  • to inspire students to continue with further study or interest in the Middle East

Entry Requirements

A university student or a graduate at the time of attending the Summer School, and 18+ years of age. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification. Fluency in English demonstrated through:

  • IELTS of 6.5 or higher
  • TOEFL iBT of 100 or higher
  • Pearson of 70 or higher
  • Or equivalent proof

Enrolment of Summer School applicants who don’t meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us in detail about your application.


Program taught in:
  • English
SOAS Summer School

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Last updated February 11, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
19 days
1,600 GBP
£1,600 + £40 application fee An early bird discount of 10% is available until 30 March 2018
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